I’m Engaged! (4 Tales of Accidental Twitter Friends)

I’m Engaged! (4 Tales of Accidental Twitter Friends)

052709 bluenile 400x400 - I'm Engaged! (4 Tales of Accidental Twitter Friends)It’s true, I’m engaged. No, not that kind of engaged. I’m virtually engaged – listening to conversations and building relationships online.

As with other networking platforms, I use Twitter primarily for business purposes. Still, as we all know, even when we network and use social media for business, we don’t talk about business 100% of the time, right? (Cue: This is where you knowingly nod your head in agreement. If this is news to you, please stop and read this immediately; it’s for your own good.)

Along the way, I’ve met so many fabulous people. Many have become clients, partners and friends. Much about connecting on Twitter is serendipitous, if we are open to it. There certainly are many people I’ve come to know through traditional, strategic means. I truly cherish each connection and am honored to “hang out” with them every day.

Aside from the strategic alliances, I encourage you to be open to the unknown. Here are just four of my favorite Twitter stories of how I “accidentally” connected with someone new, all with a happy ending and a bright future.

Watching: Ships Passing in the Night ( Jim Connolly)

Over a year ago, I often saw this guy start tweeting just before I went to sleep and talk about ending his day just as I was getting going in the morning. I watched this for awhile and saw that he was in England, which explained the time difference. I began replying to his tweets at both ends of the day and, from there, we struck up quite a wonderful conversation.? Jim is a super-smart marketing mastermind and is also the brains behind The Tech News Blog and The Ideas Blog. Over the past year, we’ve become fantastic friends. He is always there whenever I need a friendly ear. To top it all off, he is hilarious and keeps me in stitches.

Connecting: Networking in the Carpool Lane ( Cathryn Hrudicka)

When I decided to think about considering the possibility of perhaps attending my first TweetUp (note the conviction), I dutifully followed the event hashtag to get a sense of who would be there and what to expect. I am terribly introverted and, while I did very much want to give this a try, I had no difficulty in coming up with reasons not to go.

As I scanned the tweets, I saw one from a woman who shared that she’d be interested in going if she could get a ride with someone. I looked at her Twitter page, quickly recognized that she was bright and someone who placed a high priority on engaging with others.? I replied and, long story short, we managed to meet and ride to and from the TweetUp together. What a fabulous find Cathryn is! She has a wealth of knowledge about technology, social media, the performing and visual arts, non-profits and philanthropy. Who wouldn’t want to know her?

Listening: I Beg to Differ? (Tony Uphoff)

Are you “listening” to conversations on Twitter? Hands down, one of the most powerful features of Twitter is the ability to “eavesdrop” by searching for tweets using keywords or phrases of interest to you.

As part of my work helping people understand and start using social media, I do quite a bit of work with LinkedIn. I’m a huge advocate of the networking power of the site, though people are often unsure as to how to best leverage its features. I often have a search running on Twitter for people talking about LinkedIn and frequently offer assistance by answering their questions. One day, I noticed a tweet regarding the value of recommendations on LinkedIn. I replied and it immediately became apparent that the person tweeting and I had strong – and opposing – opinions on the topic.

Anytime I have the opportunity to connect with someone intelligent who is able to articulate a differing perspective is a huge learning opportunity for me; and this conversation was no different. Since these first tweets, I’ve come to know Tony as a savvy business leader (he’s the CEO of TechWeb) with keen insight into all things tech and media related (he blogs at Uphoff On Media). He is also one of the warmest, most genuine people I’ve been privileged to meet.

Meeting: Oh No, You Didn’t (Itamar Kestenbaum)

In addition to useful content, conferences provide wonderful networking opportunities. At BlogWorld in Las Vegas recently, I took every opportunity to introduce myself to someone new. One day at lunch, I plopped myself down next to someone I hadn’t yet met.

Itamar took one look at me and said, “I know you. You unfollowed me!” Yikes! Where the heck can a conversation go from there? Fortunately, we’re both very easy-going and had a good laugh about it.? We talked about the fact that I am an aggressive unfollower, especially when I receive automated DMs (direct messages). Itamar was not alone in initially thinking that setting up automated DMs was a good idea after seeing others doing it, however it is a big Twitter etiquette no-no!

Itamar, who blogs at Itamar Kenstenbaum, and I have since kept in touch. We both are huge social media fans and discover interesting bits of news in each other’s Twitter stream.

Each one of these stories is slightly off-of-center when it comes to how people usually (to the extent that anything is “usual” on Twitter) connect on Twitter. However we connect on Twitter and on other social networking sites, it’s all about engagement.

I’m engaged. Are you? Please share your stories of “accidental” connections.


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  1. Jim Connolly November 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Hi Irene,

    Thanks for including me in this post and for being so kind. As you know, I love the blog and it’s great to get mentioned in a post here.

    By the way – I still read my 4 year old son the Winnie the Pooh book you sent over for him.

    You have been a great friend and I value you and what you do enormously. Even if you are totally nuts 🙂
    .-= Jim Connolly´s last blog ..Quick Internet marketing tip! =-.

    • Irene Koehler November 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Jim. You’re awesome, but did you have to blow my cover and let everyone know how wacky I really am? There goes my reputation. 🙂

  2. Toma - Optimizing the web November 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Irene,

    Wonderful article. I got here by following a tweet from @JimConnolly and I must say it was a pleasant reading. Many times networking with just few people can get you greater benefits rather then trying to broadcast to thousands.

    .-= Toma – Optimizing the web´s last blog ..[VIDEO] SEO Tips: Write Both For Search Engines And People =-.

    • Irene Koehler November 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Well said, Toma. I truly believe it is about people, not numbers. I’ve been very lucky to have come to know many special people through my use of social media. Here I chose to focus on a few of the more unusual stories. If I was to list all of my favorite people, it would take forever!

  3. Itamar Kestenbaum November 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Amazing article. Really a good explanation of the Social Media networking world in general. These oddball chance encounters are what make it so interesting. I am happy that we met, though! And I love reading your blog. Hope you enjoy mine! You’re a good friend.

    Congrats on Paris, btw!
    .-= Itamar Kestenbaum?s last blog ..When Twitter is Down ? .Com! =-.

    • Irene Koehler November 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      Back at ya, Itamar! I’m so glad we met and that we both kept a very open mind. The oddball chance encounters often lead to very special connections.

  4. Delaney Kirk November 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I’ve “met” lots of interesting people through Twitter! This Saturday, one of them @invincibelle will be guest speaking to my students at USF in Florida via Skype from her office in California. I love technology!

    • Irene Koehler November 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      What a wonderful example of how virtual connections can turn into real-world partners! Thanks for sharing, Delaney.

  5. Trish McDermott November 21, 2009 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    Irene, as always, a good read. Thanks for sharing your stories! (I will probably never use Twitter, but it’s fun to hear about it, and how others are using it.)

    I’ve been an avid user of LinkedIn and Facebook since attending your presentation at the Chamber of Commerce, and have since gotten to know you has a friend. Thanks for helping make social media unscary, and for your friendship!

    • Irene Koehler November 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      What a wonderful comment, Trish! I feel very lucky to have had the chance to get to know you – both online and off.

  6. Jane C Woods November 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Irene, we haven’t been formally introduced but Jim Connolly has mentioned you from time to time and any friend of Jim’s is a friend of mine! Hallo!

    This is my first visit to your blog- loving it! Almost all my knowledge about social media has come through Jim and today (but probably not as you read this) if you type ‘Women’s personal development’ into Google I am number one. A few months ago I was lucky to make page 6!! And I have not paid for SEO!

    Re Twitter, I know it can be a great marketing tool but actually I decided to use it primarily to connect with some great women- and I have! I have even met up with some of them too! I have interviewed the author Elissa Stein recently through Twitter and been featured in a few myself.

    I am of an age to sioll think there is something rather magical about all of this, and I hope I never lose that sense of wonder at being able to make meaningful connections with people half way across the world while sitting in my pyjamas!!
    Best wishes to all your readers!
    .-= Jane C Woods´s last blog ..Relax, Relax, Relax! =-.

    • Irene Koehler November 23, 2009 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jane. I have no tech background myself, so experience the same wonder and amazement in the magic that make this all work. Congratulations on your great work using the tools to move up so dramatically in search rankings. It really does work!

  7. Neil Goldfluss November 23, 2009 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Irene, my co-worker, Audrey at Hirefinders.com recommended I check out your blog and it has been a pleasure to read up on your posts.

    It is so funny how technology such as twitter and interpersonal relationships are extremely related to each other. Many people view twitter to be impersonal communication but you have given prime examples of how twitter, facebook, linkedin, ect can help you connect with people in your own backyard or in other countries (Jim).

    • Irene Koehler November 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are just tools. They don’t really “do” anything on their own. Whether the relationships we build are personal or impersonal is all about how we choose to use these tools. It really is up to us to make of it what we want.

      Send my greetings to Audrey; she’s great and I appreciate that she pointed you in this direction.

  8. Sonia Schenker November 24, 2009 at 5:08 am - Reply

    Hi Irene – the title of this post lured me in! Early on, I lurked on Twitter for a few weeks to get my bearings. My initial attempt at engagement was with Melinda Emerson (@smallbizlady) because I happened across #smallbizchat and captured a transcript for myself. Since I’m such a giver ;-), I offered to share the transcript with Melinda. From that moment, I became the virtual assistant to the chat and I’ve never looked back. Melinda is in Philadelphia, I’m in northern NJ. Not exactly a world apart, but it’s unlikely we would have met without Twitter.

    • Irene Koehler November 26, 2009 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Your example of how you can to work with Melinda and #smallbizchat are a perfect example of the wonderful outcomes which can result from keeping an open mind and “listening” to what others are discussing and what they need. And, I’m happy to know you were lured in by the title – of course, that was my intent!

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